During the previous administration in Hartford, it seemed that then-Gov. Dannel Malloy ran the State Bond Commission with an iron fist. The 10-member panel met frequently and was putting a lot of arguably non-essential projects on the state’s credit card.
Now some members of the General Assembly want to change that system entirely, putting lawmakers in charge of such borrowing — not necessarily because they thought Malloy was spending too much, but because they seem to fear that under Gov. Ned Lamont’s “debt diet” they won’t be able to win approval for projects in their districts.
So far, the new governor has canceled several Bond Commission meetings and presided over one that lasted all of 17 minutes.
This is a far cry from the frequent meetings that approved stadium renovations, parking garage rehabs, fish farms and handball courts under Malloy.
“There will be some screaming,” Lamont told anyone who would listen when he announced his “debt diet” — and now that screaming has arrived, in the form of a proposal to take the bonding power away from him.
The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee has already approved a bill that would transfer control of the Bond Commission from the governor to the legislature.
Certainly there’s nothing wrong with rethinking the design of systems that aren’t working well. But if the lawmakers involved had been unhappy with Malloy’s borrowing, they should have taken action back then.
The state borrows billions of dollars every year to pay for big-ticket items such as school construction, capital projects at state universities, highway, bridge and rail upgrades, and so forth. But that is a long way from the playgrounds, handball courts, splashpads — and a forgivable $22 million loan to the world’s largest hedge fund — that were bonded during Malloy’s tenure.
Connecticut is still trying to get its fiscal house in order. This is no time to undermine the governor elected to get us back on track.
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